Monday, September 17, 2012

High School

The thing about high school is that when you are through with it, you never ever want to go back. This is prolly because high school does not come with many choices; it’s the school rules or the highway! It rules.

You don’t get to select your own wardrobe every morning; it’s the full (mostly ugly – ask Hon. Mutula) school uniform or the highway! You don’t get to wear your hair any way you’d wish to; its cornrows, pushbacks, ponytails on blow-dried (not chemically treated) hair or the highway! If you are in a boarding school, like I was, you don’t get the privilege of selecting a meal from a menu (unless you go to those schools whose names end with “….Group of Schools”). In my case for example, it was sugarless porridge, tea and a measly slice of bread, rice and beans, maize and beans aka Githeri or Makhayo- depending on which part of Kenya you come from, Ugali and barely shredded boiled Sukuma Wiki or Cabbage with a, as in ONE, piece of meat. That, or (wait for it) the highway!

Just in case you are having trouble following, all I’m saying is: High School sucked like a vacuum cleaner!

When one is done with such life in high school, you would understand when they are tempted to take the damn stinking piece of garbage that gave them grief for four solid years, lock it up somewhere in a dingy basement called ‘the past’ preferably in the middle of a desert in an unidentifiable location, throw the keys in the deep waters of a vast ocean hoping that it gets carried far far away with the tide and move on like that part of their life never really happened. Who can blame them for that? Who would ever want to go back to that food? The life full of restrictions? The unsightly uniform? The bullying? The cliques? The punishments? The hormones? The peer pressure? The struggle to fit in? The whole kit and caboodle?

But being the grown up that I am today, if I was to be given a do over, to do things my way, I wonder what exactly I would like to change. Would I ask for a better hairdo? A shorter figure-hugging uniform, a carte blanche to run my life as I wish? Why don't I have a resounding YES!

Forget the fact that I would need a bigger size uniform because I have added a pound or two since the last time I was there – that is irrelevant thankyouverymuch!  

It’s true that when a student sets foot in high school, it more often than not, boils down to perception; cliques, what’s in, what’s not, who’s cool, who’s not, who’s with it, who’s not, what’s poppin’, what’s not, who is your father, who knows your mother…You get the drift.

Yet in reality high school should merely hold a bunch of youngins who happen to be around the same age, seeking the same thing at the time of their life? No biggie right?

When I joined my former schoolmates for a reunion a few weeks ago, ‘no biggie’ is not exactly the phrase that came to mind. There is something to be said when a group of girls, now all grown up, who in the quest for knowledge, had once shared the same horrible pot of Makhayo, wore the same ugly uniform, studied in the same class at the wee hours of the morning, read till midnight with feet soaked in cold water, converge after high school.

No biggie? I don’t think so! ‘We survived!’ is more like it.

After high school, your die is spent. How your life pans out after that is entirely up to you. The end of high school signifies the beginning of life choices. Real life decisions. Not just ‘mini-skirt-or-long-skirt’ kind of decisions.

This is what I realize; that though the ‘high school’ part of my life was not the best, or the most comfortable, like any past, it helped get me to where I am today. I therefore won’t be too quick to throw away those keys.

After all is said and done, isn't it amazing what we know now, and how little we knew back then? Isn’t it amazing what’s really important and what was mere hogwash?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Since you've been gone...

It’s been an uphill task coming to terms with your demise-especially for your mother. That Friday afternoon years ago, when you took your last breath, we were left in heart-wrenching confusion, unable to comprehend what had happened.

For a while, I thought that it was a bad dream and that I would wake up and it would all be over. We all did. Only for the nightmare to drag on and on and as your small body was lowered to the earth, the nightmare turned into inevitable reality; that you had left us, never to come back again.

How were we supposed to move on? How were we to accept that we wouldn’t see you grow, play, teeth, blossom into a young woman, rebel, talk back at your parents, finish school nonetheless, get married and have your own children? Grandchildren even?  I wanted to see all that. Imagine the things we would have done together. Maybe I would have taken you to have your ears pierced, held your hair in a ponytail, allowed you to borrow my lip gloss, taken you shopping for your first bra... you know, things aunts do with their nieces. It would have been something to watch you take your first steps. Watch you fall in love. I would have scolded you though when you faltered, kept bad company, or talked back to your mother in your adolescent years. I would have loved to dish out unwarranted advice even if you would roll your eyes at me like teenagers are wont to do. 

I would have loved to watch you grow, but you left us too soon. You broke our hearts baby girl. You left us crashed. 

Plus, you broke the all-important rule. Yes you did, the unwritten rule that states that no child should ever precede their parents out of this world. But eight years is a long time to hold a grudge neh? I therefore forgive you for that sweetheart!

You would have been turning nine years old today and so I know that today must be a very difficult day for your mother. See, she has tried in the years after you left us to bear the pain though you can tell it has never left her. It never does. 

What she has been doing is coping. Because really, what else is there to do but cope and hope that when one day is done, you will find it within you to wake up the next day with just enough strength to take you to the next couple of minutes...hours...days? Praying each day for a resuscitation with the rising of the sun?

Not to worry though. Through God’s grace, she has borne the pain. One day has turned into a week, a month has turned into a year, one year to eight and a half years. She soldiers on. And when it all seems unbearable, I know she knows in her heart of hearts that we are here.

After all, what is family for?

Happy Birthday Hazel.